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Everything You Need to Know About Muay Thai Fouls and Points Deduction

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muay thai fouls

Thai boxing is a sport, it is not a street fight. Rules and regulations mustn’t be broken. When a fighter performs a prohibited move, he’ll be verbally warned or the referee might even deduct a point if the illegal action goes too far.

Different offenses lead to various kinds of sanctions. I will guide you through the world of Muay Thai fouls. Some accidental mistakes are tolerated but sometimes, the referee might stop the bout if the opponent is unable to continue and you might even lose because of an illegal move.

Three-Foul System

When you make the foul, the referee will issue a warning, but it depends on the severity of the offense. In general, three Muay Thai fouls should lead to a disqualification, hence the referee might verbally warn you for the first or second time if he believes you broke the rule accidentally

You’ll rarely see direct disqualification in Thai boxing, even when you made a very huge foul. I’m watching Thai boxing for a long time, and I’ve never seen an instant DQ. But you never know, maybe there is another Steve Mazzagatti out there.

Now let’s dive into the world of Muay Thai fouls. My piece of advice is – don’t break the rules and you’ll be fine.

Prohibited Actions

Some rules are violated accidentally. But some fighters are ready to risk two warnings to get the advantage over their opponents, especially when they’re on the losing end of the scorecards.

I am explaining all Muay Thai fouls, step-by-step. And yeah, you can get a point deducted if you perform these actions inside the ring.

Nut Shots

This is not a street fight, knee strikes to the groin will not be tolerated. The referee then gives the opponent some time to recover. Yet, the recovery period mustn’t be longer than 5 minutes. If the fighter who ate a groin shot refuses to continue, he’ll lose or the bout will be declared “no contest”.

Kicks and punches to the groin are a gray zone, the referee might intervene but it’s not mandatory. I’ve seen referees warning fighters when the foul is very obvious.


This is Muay Thai, the science of 8 limbs, not Muay Boran or Lethwei. The ninth limb is prohibited, and the referee will take action instantly.


Don’t even think of biting your opponent, you’ll be lucky if you don’t get disqualified.

Eye Gouging

Nowadays, fighters fight in western-style boxing gloves, so it’s one of the rarest Muay Thai fouls, but you mustn’t do this in a traditional fight too (hemp ropes wrapped around the fists).


This is a severe foul, and the referee might disqualify you instantly, don’t even think about it.

Disobeying The Referee’s Command

Sucker punching, hitting after the referee’s signal or bell, refusing to let the opponent go or deliver a strike, arguing with the ref… you can get a warning every time you choose to ignore the ref’s command, but he might warn you verbally in some cases.

Provocative Manners

Muay Thai is all about respect. You are not allowed to stick a tongue out during the fight. Showing a middle finger, insulting the opponent or his corner, arguing with the crowd… Just don’t do it, the ancient Siamese martial art doesn’t tolerate disrespect.

Locking The Opponent’s Arms

You are taking part in a Muay Thai competition for a reason. Aikido-style locks and techniques are not allowed. Don’t try to trap the rival’s arms, no waist locks.

Catching The Opponent’s Leg Plus Making More Than Two Steps Without Using Any Weapons

When you grab the leg, you must take some action within two steps – punch, sweep, knee, elbow or kick. If you just push the opponent whose leg is grabbed, the referee orders you to stop and gives you a caution. Two cautions lead to a warning.

Kicking The Downed Opponent

When the opponent is on the canvas, you are not allowed to attack. This is not MMA, no ground and pound or knees to the head of the grounded or kneeling opponent. When the foe’s knee touches the floor, it’s a knockdown, and the referee starts to count.

A Boxer Pretends To Fall On The Floor After His Kick Was Caught

This is considered cheating or taking advantage of the opponent. The referee might caution you twice, then he issues a penalty.

Both Boxers Fall Out Of The Ring And Either Thai Warrior Tries To Delay Getting Back Into It

You are not allowed to delay the return unless you’re seriously hurt.

Illegal Throws

In general, all kinds of Judo and wrestling throws are prohibited. I will describe each of Muay Thai fouls under this category:

  • wrapping your leg around the leg of an opponent from the inside or the outside and forcing them to the floor;
  • locking an opponent’s neck and attempting to execute a hip or a hip to shoulder throw;
  • grabbing the opponent’s hip and going for a hip throw;
  • holding the rival’s arm, turning and using the calf muscle and rear part of the thigh to sweep your foe’s legs from under them;
  • holding the opponent and falling backward to throw him (pulling guard);
  • all kinds of MMA double or single-leg takedowns plus Imanari rolls;
  • grabbing an opponent’s waist from behind (back control), placing a leg between the rival’s legs, pulling the opponent backward over the leg and hip;
  • catching under the level of the waist, lifting, throwing, and slamming;
  • catching an opponent’s leg and tripping/sweeping him off the feet via the use of calf muscle;
  • tripping the opponent with the ankle;
  • leg sweep via use the inside of the foot or the calf;
  • back control from behind and lifting to throw, all kinds of slams;
  • spiking – throwing the opponent straight to the head;
  • “back-breaking” moves – grabbing around the foe’s lower spine and hyper-extending their back.

The Use Of Forbidden Substances Sanctioned By WADA

You might get sanctioned after the competition for this, your win might be overturned to no contest and you’ll earn a suspension.


Everybody breaks a rule from time to time, intentionally or unintentionally. But I hope this thread helps you understand the list of prohibited actions in ancient Siamese martial art. Did you ever make any of these Muay Thai fouls in your combat? Please share your comments!

Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Deni

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Hi, I started training Muay Thai back in 2016 and fell in love with it. So I decided to create this blog in the pursuit of this passion and share my experience with you.

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